Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sharp sues Samsung over LCD patent infringement

Sharp Corp. filed a lawsuit today alleging infringements of five of its patents on LCD-related technology by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Samsung) and its U.S. subsidiaries Samsung Electronics America (SEA) and Samsung Telecommunications America (STA) in the U.S. District Court in Marshall, Texas.
The complaint alleges that the following products infringe LCD-related patents that are owned by Sharp: liquid crystal display (LCD) modules manufactured by
Samsung and sold in the United States by Samsung; LCD TVs and LCD monitors which incorporate the LCD modules manufactured by Samsung and are sold in the U.S. by SEA; and mobile phones which incorporate the LCD modules manufactured by Samsung and are sold in the U.S. by STA.
In the complaint, Sharp requests that the Court award compensatory damages to Sharp and prohibit the sales of the infringing products. Sharp also requests a jury trial.

Less tech savy readers may wonder why it's taken this long to go to tort. After all, how many ways are there to manufacture LCD panels?

Surprisingly, quite a few. Sharp still remains the industry leader in LCD technology, and last week announced their 10th generation panel technology. Most other makers are only using 7th or 8th Gen processes. This is, in simple terms, why Sharp's video displays are visibly superior to any of the other LCD brands that I have ever taken a hard look at.

Ultimately though, it all comes down to money. It was only a matter of time before another manufacturer stepped on Sharp's toes, intentionally or otherwise. As the article states, Sharp and Samsung have been negotiating a licencing agreement since last year. Now apparently at an impasse, Sharp has chosen hardball as their next negotiating tactic. I would expect Samsung to settle quietly before the end of the year.

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